Are you or a loved one experiencing depression? Do you need resources? We’ve put together a short guide for those who know someone living with depression or are experiencing it themselves. Depression is among the leading causes of disability and leave worldwide. Since it’s so subtle, and its effects misinterpreted as a lack of initiative, workforce discrimination on the basis of depression is common. Although stigma associated with the illness is on a healthy decline—and awareness increasing—depression can still create barriers for job-seekers. So, it’s essential that sufferers adequately maintain symptoms while on the job-hunt. For anyone living with depression, this post will provide a brief overview of information available regarding depression, easy-to-access resources for anyone living with depression, further information for loved ones supporting those who experience it, and lastly, services that DECSA provides for people with depression.
Types of Depression
Like all health conditions, depression looks different for each person. For example, depression may keep one person awake while making others oversleep. These differences in symptoms between individuals can be used to split depression into different types. Four of these types are described below.
Major depressive disorder with melancholic features is the most common. This type comes in episodes and includes symptoms of insomnia (inability to sleep), waking in the early hours, unresponsive sadness and hopelessness, and loss of appetite.
Major depressive disorder with atypical features is like depression with melancholic features but includes hypersomnia (excessive sleepiness), weight gain and overeating.
Dysthymia, also called persistent depressive disorder, does not come in episodes, has less pronounced symptoms, and includes chronic, prolonged symptoms that can last for multiple years.
The exceptionally rare psychotic depression includes symptoms of psychosis in addition to depressive symptoms. Psychotic symptoms can include delusions (unusually odd beliefs that conflict with abundant evidence to the contrary) and hallucinations (detecting things with the senses that are not there).
More information on types of depression can be found on healthline.
Need Help? Where to Go
For those with depression help can seem unreachable. Many myths and stereotypes surrounding mental health treatment discourage people from coming forward. one of which that is the most concerning suggests that those who seek treatment are weak in will or character. It is important to dismiss these myths and stereotypes as false. When depression is left untreated the likelihood of suicide and other tragic outcomes increases drastically.
So, what is the first step in getting help? First, schedule an appointment with your doctor. Having the discussion with your GP may be difficult, but family doctors are understanding and will have the authority to either recommend a preliminary medication regiment, or refer you to a specialist who may offer more expertise and firsthand knowledge. Therapy may be an option or requirement depending on the severity of a particular case. In most cases the best choice is to take the opportunity, if only to hear a different perspective on your challenges. It is essential that you take the practices and techniques shown in the office and fit them into your daily routine. Although therapy sessions are beneficial from just attendance, without taking the time to learn techniques taught to you during sessions the relief will only be temporary.
Seek professional diagnosis and treatment before attempting at-home remedies. That being said, at-home remedies can help! One of these is vitamin D. According to Ph. D. Alex Korb vitamin D helps your body produce serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical produced by your brain to regulate a wide range of behaviours such as impulse and mood. Many medications for depression (such as SSRIs) target the serotonin system to help with what doctors believe is a lack of serotonin. It is common to be short on vitamin D in Canada (because of our location on the globe), so psychologists recommend supplements and more time in the sun.
If you think you might need crisis-intervention, it’s a good idea to keep hotline numbers on hand. This may seem excessive, but you could be saving a life. Different hotlines may be better suited for you. If you live in Edmonton or Northern Alberta, you can call The Crisis Support Centre [(780) 482-HELP (4357)]. Services run 24 hours a day.
A Friend in Need
This section is intended for readers that are searching for ways to help a friend. Knowing how and when to provide support to a loved one is a necessity. In order to help you must be able to recognize the symptoms and other telltale indicators of depression. Familiarize yourself with some of the symptoms to detect the condition early on.
The first step is to always be open to providing a listening ear. Depressed people often feel very alone. With somebody to talk to, they may feel encouraged to pursue treatment and will be more likely to follow their treatment plan.
When speaking with your friend it’s important to know what to say and what not to say. Good things to say to a depressed person would be: “I’m here for you,” “The way you’re feeling will change,” or “I care about you and want to help.” Don’t say things like: “It’s all in your head,” “We all go through times like this,” or “Just snap out of it.” The language we use has the power to determine whether a person will appreciate the help, or further isolate themselves from others. A complete list can be found online at helpguide.org.
Your next objective should be encouraging the person in question to accept treatment. Suggesting that the individual go see a doctor may be enough, but remember to discuss with the person why you think they have an issue—or what you’ve been observing in them. Suggest beginning a journal or diary to act as a symptom log. The person will then have material to refer to when discussing their concerns with a doctor.
It is also important that you are able to discern when the depression is worsening, and when suicide is a legitimate concern. Someone contemplating suicide may talk about death, give away belongings, partake in risky or self-destructive behaviour, or even display contentment after a long period of volatile temperament. This is one of the most important duties as a friend, as this can be life-threatening to the person with depression.
Lastly, as somebody supporting a person with depression it’s sensible to account for your own well-being as well. Sit down and meditate on your life, ask yourself whether there are areas in which you are struggling. Helping others can cause you stress. In order to avoid being drawn into similar circumstance, you must take time to breathe, reflect, and enjoy life.
How Can DECSA Help?
Depression is one of many disabilities that qualifies individuals for Assets for Success. DECSA’s Assets for Success program is accepting new applicants for the rest of summer. Through this program we provide employment preparation workshops, one-on-one career counselling, and direct connections to employers, so if you have a disability, you’re looking for work, and you’re between 15 and 30, call us at 780-474-2500 to learn more.